BBB: Give wisely to disaster relief

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 11, 2011

Better Business Bureau
After today’s devastating earthquake in Japan, many Americans will want to make contributions to help the victims. The easiest way to help is by making donations to disaster relief agencies and charities that are experienced at working with disaster victims.
However, as with every natural disaster, there are unscrupulous people who will attempt to take advantage of your generosity.
“In the face of any disaster, Americans will immediately make donations to help the victims,” said BBB President Tom Bartholomy.
“Unfortunately, scammers will also try to take advantage of generous donors.”
If you want to give, the BBB has this advice:
• Before making a contribution, check the charity out to see if it meets the BBB’s Standards for Charitable Giving. Go to to obtain detailed reports on relief organizations and charities.
• Give to charities that are experienced in disaster relief. While other charities may solicit donations for earthquake relief, these organizations may not have the ability to quickly deliver aid to those in need.
• Watch out for fake charities that imitate the name of well-known organizations in order to confuse donors.
• To ensure your contribution is tax deductible, donations should be made to organizations that are tax exempt charities.
• Beware of emotional appeals that do not address how the charity will directly meet the needs of victims and their families.
• Do not give cash or send money via wire transfer. Checks or money orders should be made out to the name of the charitable organization, not to the individual collecting the donation.
• Do not give your credit card number or other personal information to a telephone solicitor or in response to an e-mail solicitation.
For more information on the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, please visit